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The Impossible Burger wouldn’t be possible without genetic engineering

The Impossible Burger has had a charmed honeymoon period. Crowds of foodies surged into fancy eateries to try it. Environmentalists and animal rights activists swooned. So did investors: Impossible Foods brought in $75 million during its latest investment round.

Now the backlash is here. The activist organizations Friends of the Earth and the ETC Group dug up documents which they claim show that Impossible Foods “ignored FDA warnings about safety” — and they handed them over to the New York Times.

The ensuing story depicted Impossible Foods as a culinary version of Uber — disrupting so rapidly that it’s running “headlong into” government regulators. In reality, Impossible Foods has behaved like a pedestrian food company, working hand in hand with the FDA and following a well-worn path to comply with an arcane set of rules.

So why isn’t this story a nothingburger?

In a word: GMOs. You see, soy leghemoglobin, or SLH, the key ingredient that makes the Impossible Burger uniquely meaty, is churned out by genetically modified yeast. “This is a protein produced with genetic engineering; it’s a new food ingredient,” Dana Perls, senior food and technology campaigner at Friends of the Earth, told me when I asked why they’d singled out Impossible Foods.

The company has never exactly hidden the fact that they used genetic engineering, but they haven’t put it front and center either. You have to dig into their “frequently asked questions” to catch that detail — and that’s a recent edit, according to Perls. “When I first looked at the Impossible Foods website, maybe back in March, there was no mention of genetic engineering,” she said. (An Impossible Foods spokesperson disputed Perls’s claim, saying the FAQ has included references to genetic engineering for at least a year, since before the burger’s launch in restaurants.*)

By tiptoeing around this issue, Impossible Foods set themselves up for a takedown by anti-GMO campaigners. These groups monitor new applications of genetic engineering, watch for potentially incriminating evidence, then work with journalists to publicize it. In 2014, Ecover, a green cleaning company, announced it was using oils made by algae as part of its pledge to remove palm oil — a major driver of deforestation — from its products. When Friends of the Earth and the ETC Group figured out the algae was genetically engineered, they pinged the same Times writer. Ecover quickly went back to palm oil.

When I asked Impossible Foods’ founder Pat Brown about the GMO question, he said he didn’t think that battle was theirs to fight. After all, the SLH may be produced by transgenic yeast, but it isn’t a GMO itself. He also pointed out that this isn’t unusual: nearly all cheese contains a GMO-produced enzyme.

But now, Friends of the Earth and the ETC Group have brought their battle to Impossible Foods’ doorstep. (In a blistering series of responses to the New York Times article, the company charged it “was chock full of factual errors and misrepresentations and was instigated by an extremist anti-science group.”) The FDA documents handed over to the Times include worrying sentences like this one: “FDA stated that the current arguments at hand, individually and collectively, were not enough to establish the safety of SLH for consumption.”

If FDA officials say your company hasn’t done enough to convince them that a new ingredient is safe, aren’t you supposed to pull it off the market?

That’s not how it works, said Gary Yingling, a former FDA official now helping Impossible Foods navigate the bureaucracy. In the United States, it’s up to the companies themselves to determine if an ingredient is safe. Impossible worked with a group of experts at universities who decided that the burger was safe in 2014. SLH, it turns out, grows naturally in the roots of soy plants, and the proteins in the burger look a lot like animal proteins — a good indicator of safety.

Impossible could have stopped there: Companies, however, can ask the government to weigh in on their research. Sometimes, the FDA asks for more information, which is what happened with Impossible Foods. It’s not unusual for the FDA to determine it can’t establish the safety of a new ingredient — it’s happened more than 100 times, with substances like Ginkgo biloba, gum arabic, and Spirulina. The FDA has called for more information in about one in every seven of the ingredients companies have asked it to review.

In the case of SLH, the FDA suggested more tests, including rat-feeding trials. Impossible Foods has finished these tests, and academics who have studied the new data confirmed that it’s “generally recognized as safe.” Next, Impossible Foods will bring the new evidence back to the FDA, Yingling said.

Each new innovation creates the potential for new hazards. We can block some of those hazards by taking precautions. But how high should we put the precautionary bar?

Impossible Burger could indeed pose some unknown hazard. We just have to weigh that against the known hazards of the present — foodborne diseases in meat, greenhouse gases from animal production, the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria in farms, and animal suffering. These are problems which Impossible Foods is trying to solve.

There are other companies trying to solve these problems. (Friends of the Earth notes that “the success of non-animal burgers, like the non-GMO Beyond Burger, demonstrates that plant-based animal substitutes can succeed without resorting to genetic engineering.”) But it’s not yet clear that any of these companies — including Impossible Foods — will be successful in just generating a profit, let alone in replacing the global meat industry. No one knows which startups will pan out. And we’ll probably need to try and discard lots of new things as we shift to a sustainable path.

Trying new things can be risky. Not trying new things — and staying on our current trajectory — is even more risky.

*This story has been updated to include a response from Impossible Foods about when references to genetic engineering first appeared in its FAQ.

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The Impossible Burger wouldn’t be possible without genetic engineering

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9 Mistakes to Avoid When Planting a New Vegetable Garden

Growing your own vegetables is an excellent way to have an abundance of fresh, organic produce right outside your door. But it can take some effort to reach that point.

Whether you?re just starting your growing season, or troubleshooting an existing garden, avoiding the following mistakes will help get your garden on the right path to a successful harvest.

Mistake #1: Improper watering.

Water is important for your vegetable plants to flourish and develop your crop. But too much or too little water can be fatal.

A general rule is to give your veggies 1 inch of water per week. You can measure how much they?re getting by putting a rain gauge or a bucket in your veggie patch.

Although, this rule doesn?t take into account your local soil and climatic conditions. Check these guidelines to figure out how much water your plants actually need.

Mistake #2: Putting plants in the wrong place.

The amount of sun or shade on your veggie plants can make a big difference in their health.

But if you have limited space, it can be tempting to try and fit plants in wherever you can, regardless of how much sun they?re getting. Plants like lettuce and cabbages will be fine in those shady corners of your garden. Whereas, plants like tomatoes and squash will suffer.

Read the seed packages or labels of your vegetable seedlings to find out how much sun they need. And if you don?t have a good place for a certain variety, move on and find one that will thrive in the space you have.

Mistake #3: Choosing the wrong plants for your climate zone.

Most seed packages or plant labels will tell you what are called the days to maturity, or how long it takes to grow from a seedling to a mature vegetable crop.

This is an important number because many lower hardiness zones have a limited number of frost-free days for vegetables to grow. Longer-season vegetables, such as sweet potatoes or tomatoes, might not have enough time to mature before frost hits.

The United States Department of Agriculture has an excellent interactive tool to find out your local hardiness zone. Then you can look up the typical number of frost-free days for your hardiness zone.

Mistake #4: Waiting too long to weed.

It can be easy to put off mundane tasks like weeding, but this is one of the most important things you can do to support your veggies. Weeds left to get too big compete with your vegetable plants for water, nutrients and sunshine.

It?s best to pull out or lightly till weed seedlings as soon as you see them. You can either add them to your compost pile or leave them on the soil surface as a mulch.

Mistake #5: Ignoring your soil.

Vegetables get their nutrients directly from the soil. Adding organic matter is the best way to create healthy, fertile soil. It also improves the texture of soil and makes it easier to work with.

Mix some organic matter into your soil before you plant anything. You can buy commercially prepared bags of compost to mix in, or make your own compost.

You can also add organic mulches on top of your soil, such as grass clippings, shredded leaves or a living groundcover. These will provide ongoing nutrients as they break down over time.

Related: Which Type of Mulch is Best for Your Garden?

Mistake #6: Not rotating crops.

Certain vegetable diseases live in the soil, such as mosaic viruses. These viruses often specialize in one type of vegetable, such as cucumbers or beans. One of the best ways to rid your soil of a mosaic virus is to rotate your crops. If the virus doesn?t have a host plant for a few years, it will often die out.

Also, every vegetable needs different types of nutrients. Growing one vegetable in the same spot every year will deplete the area of the same nutrients. Whereas, rotating your crops will give all your veggies an opportunity to get the nutrients they need.

Karen?s Garden Tips has a good overview of how to rotate your vegetable crops.

Mistake #7: Spacing plants improperly.

Mature vegetable plants should gently touch each other and leave no soil visible. This helps retain moisture in the soil while giving the vegetables enough space to develop.

Vegetables planted too close together may have poor yields and an increased risk of pests and diseases because of reduced air circulation. On the other hand, wide spacing between plants can leave too much exposed soil, which increases evaporation and watering needs as well as potential sun scald.

To avoid these issues, refer to your seed packages or plant labels for their recommended spacing.

Mistake #8: Planting at the wrong time.

Deciding when to plant your seedlings or seeds can be challenging.

When you plant seedlings outside in the spring, you need to wait until the frost risk has passed, but not so long that your seedlings start to outgrow their pots. And if you grow your own seedlings from seed, you often need to start them months before your last frost date.

Directly planting seeds in your garden is also finicky. If they go into the ground too early, they could get hit by frost when they sprout. But planting them too late may not leave enough time for the vegetables to mature before harvest.

This is another area where finding out the days to maturity is helpful.

Mistake #9: Planting the wrong amount.

Overproduction or underproduction of vegetables are problems even well-seasoned gardeners often face.

In the planting frenzy of spring, it?s easy to plant what seems like just a bit extra to make sure you have enough. Those few extra plants can produce way more than you expected, which only benefits your friends and neighbors as they receive your excess veggies.

Planting conservatively can also backfire if you lose the few plants you started to pests. To prevent this, keep in mind your final use for your vegetables. Are you planning on preserving them for winter, or simply using them fresh? This can help you decide exactly the right amount to grow.

And if you don?t like a certain vegetable, any amount is too much. Vegetables like zucchini are often recommended for new gardeners because they?re easy to grow. But if you don?t like zucchini, it?s alright to say no.

Related
Do You Have to Stake or Cage Tomatoes?
Do Marigolds Really Repel Garden Pests?
12 Ways to Get Rid of Aggressive Weeds Without Resorting to Roundup

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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9 Mistakes to Avoid When Planting a New Vegetable Garden

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An Open Note to Robert Mueller

Mother Jones

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The Justice Department finally caved in and appointed a special counsel to investigate the Flynn/Manafort/Trump/Comey/Russia/etc. affair. Their choice is Robert Mueller, the FBI director before James Comey. Mueller, like Comey, is one of the heroes of the great Ashcroft hospital bed confrontation, so he’s widely viewed as an upright guy. Before he gets too deep into the weeds, however, I’d like to lay out one piece of the case:

February: President Trump meets with James Comey about his future. In notes written right after the meeting, Comey says that Trump explicitly asked him to please drop the whole Russia investigation.

March: Comey declines to drop the investigation. In fact, he makes it clear to Congress and the public that the investigation exists and is serious.

April: Trump admits on national TV that his growing frustration with the Russia investigation led to his decision to fire Comey.

This is what happened. It’s pretty simple. Trump asked the FBI director to kill an investigation into his friends, and then fired him when he refused. All the added detail in the world will never change this.

POSTSCRIPT: Just as an aside, one of the bizarre aspects of this case is that I suspect Trump never really thought he was doing anything wrong. Comey worked for him and he was making trouble for his friends, so of course he had to go. What’s wrong with that? Trump probably doesn’t even know what obstruction of justice is, and if he does he probably figures it doesn’t apply to the president.

Original article – 

An Open Note to Robert Mueller

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Fox News Flees Interview After Hearing a Critical Take on Comey Firing

Mother Jones

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While Washington reels over the fallout from FBI Director James Comey’s abrupt dismissal this week, Fox & Friends’ Griff Jenkins set out on Thursday to check the pulse of the average Joe in real America.

“What do you make of the firing?” Jenkins asked a random patron inside the Tastee Diner in Bethesda, Maryland.

“I think it should have been done much earlier,” he answered. “Not to be too Machiavellian about it—why does it take such a long time for these guys to arrive at this conclusion? Is it because we’re getting too tight, finding out too much information about Putin?”

That response proved too much for Jenkins. Watch him swiftly shut down the interview and move on to another man posted up at the bar:

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Fox News Flees Interview After Hearing a Critical Take on Comey Firing

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Donald Trump Obliterates the Deficit!

Mother Jones

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Behold the echo chamber. Here is Gateway Pundit two days ago:

Here is Herman Cain this morning:

Here is Donald Trump shortly afterward:

The strangest thing about this is that…it’s true. I’m not really used to that from Trump. I guess accidents do happen, though.

Now, it’s also meaningless, and not just because Trump hasn’t actually done anything yet. The deficit bounces up and down monthly depending on how much the government happens to spend and how much tax revenue it takes in. For example, take a look at the following chart:

The month of April is shown in blue. Let’s make that into its own chart:

Impressive! During Obama’s presidency, he turned around America’s finances. We went from a deficit of $80 billion in 2010 to a surplus of over $100 billion in his final year. Why didn’t the mainstream media ever report that?

Because who cares, that’s why. You know what happens in April? Everyone pays their taxes. Does that mean the deficit is in great shape every April? Of course not. That just happens to be when a lot of the money comes in.

But it doesn’t matter. As I’ve mentioned before, Trump’s tweets are for for his fans, not for us. And his fans now think that in his very first month Trump has erased the deficit. The guy promised action, and by God, he’s delivered. It just goes to show that all this deficit stuff wasn’t really so hard to solve after all. It just needed a man of action to go in and straighten things out.

Not that the FAKE NEWS media will ever admit that, of course.

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Donald Trump Obliterates the Deficit!

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Fox News and Food Stamp Fraud: The Finale

Mother Jones

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Abby Huntsman promised to “address” her baseless story about food stamp fraud on Fox & Friends today. So how did she do? Mediaite tells us:

Huntsman admitted the error the following day, reading a correction twice on-air: “We reported that back in 2016, $70 million were wasted on food stamp fraud. That was actually incorrect.”

“The latest information from 2009 to 2011 shows the fraud at 1.3%, which is approximately $853 million for each of those three years, and nationally food-stamp trafficking is on the decline. So sorry about that mistake,” she said.

“Food stamp trafficking is on the decline.” I wonder how much of her audience understands that this means “food stamp fraud is on the decline”? Oh well. At least she mentioned it.

I have to say, though, that what I’m really curious about is where the original $70 million figure came from. Made up out of thin air? Somebody read the wrong column in a report? Or what? I literally can’t think of what sort of data you could dig up that would lead to this number, even in error. I suppose we’ll never know.

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Fox News and Food Stamp Fraud: The Finale

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Obama could still permanently protect the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. Here’s how.

Environmentalists are cheering the Obama administration’s new five-year plan for offshore drilling, with some major reservations.

The plan, released on Friday, puts most of most of the Arctic Ocean off-limits to oil and gas drilling for the next five years — but climate hawks wanted it to go further, protecting all of the Arctic. And now, with a very different president about to assume office, green groups are calling on President Obama to make those protections permanent.

The Department of Interior’s plan blocks the sale of new leases for offshore drilling in sensitive areas of the Arctic, including the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off Alaska, and in waters along the Atlantic coast. But it allows for some limited leasing in the Cook Inlet off Alaska.

Although the plan is supposed to govern offshore leasing until 2022, it could be unraveled by President-elect Donald Trump, who promised a dramatic expansion of oil and gas drilling during his campaign. Under a Trump administration, the Interior Department could revise its five-year plan and open these areas to extraction within a few years.

That gives added urgency to hopes that President Obama will protect the Atlantic and Arctic coasts from drilling for good through an executive action. Experts argue that the risks of offshore drilling are too high and that to prevent catastrophic climate change some significant reserves of oil and gas will have to stay in the ground.

Environmental advocates say they plan on stepping up pressure on the White House to act in the weeks ahead.

“With Trump threatening to return to the days of ‘drill, baby, drill,’ President Obama should be doing everything in his power to secure our public lands and waters, climate, and communities from the significant and irreversible dangers of fossil fuel development,” says Marissa Knodel, climate change campaigner at Friends of the Earth, via email.

Putting off-shore areas off-limits to drilling is not the same as naming a national monument, but it’s similar in that it uses a presidential power outside the normal rule-making process. To repeal permanent protection, Congress would need to change the underlying law, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, or pass stand-alone legislation.

“The president has clear executive authority to provide the Arctic and Atlantic coasts the permanent protection that they richly deserve, that the public would support, and that the climate science says is necessary,” says Franz Matzner, director of the Beyond Oil Initiative at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “That’s something a host of voices across the country are still calling for.”

Obama has already demonstrated that he can be moved to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Stopping leasing in Chukchi and Beaufort was a response to strong grassroots lobbying earlier this year. Obama also stopped the Keystone XL oil pipeline in response to activists’ campaigns.

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Obama could still permanently protect the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. Here’s how.

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Inside the climate movement’s Trump-fighting strategy

With the election of Donald Trump, environmentalists find themselves bracing for their worst possible scenario at the worst possible time.

Only recently, the world has made slow but steady progress in the fight against climate change — even as signs of global climate disruption have accelerated. The world has already warmed about 1 degree C above preindustrial times, which might not sound like much, but scientific evidence shows it’s contributing to an increase in extreme weather, drought, and conflict across the globe. If we don’t ramp up immediate action to limit warming, the consequences will become more deadly, even catastrophic, for the world’s most vulnerable populations.

History could one day judge this election as the point of no return. Our science-adverse, climate-denying, fossil fuel–friendly president-elect promises to take a wrecking ball to the few promising signs that the world is beginning to deliver on a more sustainable future.

At best, it will turn out that Trump (never one for consistency) was bluffing during his campaign. Republicans could still decide not to fulfill their promises to cut all federal climate funding and cripple the Environmental Protection Agency. Perhaps the international backlash can slow Trump’s roll to pull the United States from the Paris climate deal.

But at worst — and this is the way things appear to be leaning — Trump and his administration of fossil fuel executives will undo not just the incremental progress made under President Obama’s second term, but over 40 years of environmental progress since the inception of the Clean Air Act. Millions, even billions, of people could be hurt because of a single U.S. election, especially if America’s reversal sabotages the climate efforts of other countries.

Facts and science have often taken a beating in U.S. politics, and advocates will find themselves in a familiar, if daunting, position over the next four years: limiting what the presidency can do to unwind climate action.

Progressives across the board are now navigating a post-election minefield. Some have been tempted to normalize Trump’s positions and pledge to work with him if he comes around, while many others have no illusions about what his presidency will bring. In wide-ranging interviews across the movement in the week after Trump’s election, environmental leaders and activists explained how they are gearing up to fight.

Their message: Have hope.

Strategy 1: Apply public pressure

At a sober press conference the day after the election, Kevin Curtis, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund (the political affiliate of the larger national group), made a weak joke about how many of his fellow speakers had gray hair. His point: Many of them have faced these battles before, specifically when Republicans controlled Congress in 1980, 1994, and 2004, and promised to handicap the Environmental Protection Agency, just as Trump has.

“The environmental community experienced this 16 years ago with President George W. Bush,” echoed Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth, in a separate interview. “We used the courts to protect rules. We went after political appointees, personnel policy.”

Each time a Republican president took office over the past few decades, environmentalists saw protections and oversight rolled back or delayed, resulting in loose standards for air pollutants and loopholes in fracking regulations. We’re still seeing ramifications of those changes today.

But advocates also successfully fought many proposals that could have permanently handicapped the Clean Air Act and environmental enforcement.

“When Newt Gingrich came in, as the public realized what he was actually intending to do, the public became very active in voicing concern, as did media and others,” said David Goldston, NRDC’s government affairs director. “There was a level of attention and criticism that made Gingrich and his allies realize they were expending too much political capital on an anti-environmental agenda that was not successful.”

Another such fight involved Bush’s Energy Policy Act of 2005. Now infamous for the “Halliburton loophole” that prevents federal oversight of hydraulic fracturing, environmentalists who were fighting many of the act’s provisions at the time remember it for its potential to do far worse.

“It was a laundry list for polluters, and really nothing that was going to benefit America and move us toward a clean energy future,” Environment America’s D.C. Director Anna Aurilio said. “We fought hard against that bill for five years.”

Filibustering blocked, among other things, the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and kept many public lands off limits to drilling. Environmentalists mobilized their supporters to call on Senate leaders to block the worst of the fossil fuel wishlist.

Another tactic that seemed to work, Friends of the Earth’s Pica noted, was exposing the many ties between the fossil fuel industry and the Cheney energy task force that recommended changes in the law and regulations.

The parallels between the second Bush administration and today aren’t exact. The GOP held less extreme positions on climate change than it does today, and even then enviros lost on many fronts. It is unclear whether Democrats will even have the filibuster, which allows the minority party in the Senate to block legislation, at their disposal this time around.

There are other differences that offer a bit of hope, though. “The stakes on climate are far higher, and this time the urgency is greater,” NRDC’s Goldston said. “I think the prominence of where the issue starts is more prominent than where pollution was when the Reagan, Bush, and Gingrich fights took place.”

Strategy 2: Thanks, Obama

Obama’s lame-duck period won’t be boring, that’s for sure. Before the president leaves office in January, enviros expect their most powerful current ally to push through a series of finalized regulations and public-lands protections, setting up obstacles to a Republican polluter-free-for-all.

Activists are pressuring the administration to deny the permits that would allow completion of the final leg of the Dakota Access Pipeline under the Missouri River. They are pressuring Obama to take the Atlantic coast and Arctic Ocean off the table in his five-year drilling plan. (Less realistically, they hope to see the Gulf off-limits for more drilling, too).

There’s also a push to declare the area around the Grand Canyon off-limits to uranium mining. And enviros are asking Obama’s EPA to finalize as many anti-pollution regulations as possible.

The problem is that whatever Obama can do by executive action can be undone just as easily by executive action, or by Congress. Republicans are already eyeing reigning in one of the presidency’s greatest environmental powers of the last century — the ability to designate national monuments. Even if Obama fulfills every last item on environmentalists’ wish list, it doesn’t mean his actions will withstand the test of time.

That’s not the point, argues one of the groups pushing the administration to do more.

“Even if these things are busted up after the Obama administration,” said 350.org Communications Director Jamie Henn, “at least it forces Trump to actively break them, instead of letting him charge ahead.”

Strategy 3: Sue the bastards

Environmental groups weren’t ready to comment in detail about their legal strategy in a Trump era. They already have their hands full with the legal defense of the Clean Power Plan (Obama’s regulations to reduce carbon emissions from power plants) and other Obama-era regulatory cases that are threading through the courts.

They have the law — at least for now — on their side. The Supreme Court has upheld the EPA’s ability to regulate pollution, and has also determined that, technically, the government must address greenhouse gases, if the best science says they’re a threat to public health (they are).

Under Obama, the EPA already issued these so-called endangerment findings, confirming the science underpinning the health threats of climate change, and a president can’t simply reverse those with the stroke of a pen.

Environmental groups could be expected to go on the offense and not just play defense, maintaining that — by law — the government has to address climate change.

Although court battles sometimes work, they can’t perform magic. A Trump administration will still be governed by anti-science personnel and strategy, and one of the easiest solutions from them to stall environmental action would be to cut funding to agencies’ most important work. Lawsuits are also contingent on judges who go by precedent and rule for the environmental side, while many lower courts are staffed by more conservative justices.

“Legal strategies are end-of-the-pipe solutions,” activist and Environment Action policy director Anthony Rogers-Wright said — meaning they are the last line of defense.

Strategy 4: Win in the states

Much of the progress on climate change over the past decade has occurred at the state and local level, and that will be even more true in a Trump era.

Large environmental and progressive groups have reported record fundraising in the days after the election. Community-based groups have also seen an outpouring of support.

Elizabeth Yeampierre, who runs UPROSE, a group focused on environmental justice in Brooklyn, said that this week alone she has seen a flood of interest from community members interested in volunteering. “It took us by surprise,” she said. “People are looking for community anchors, spaces they can organize, spaces they can preserve our rights, and move the dial forward on climate change.”

“What I find most promising and most exciting is the level of concern and interest in supporting organizations like ours.” One of UPROSE’s main focuses in the upcoming year will be turning the industrial waterfront off Brooklyn’s Sunset Park into a hub for sustainable development and offshore wind.

“It’s interesting,” Yeampierre said. “People say that’s very local, very parochial, but areas like those are well-positioned to serve regional and local needs at the same time.” It’s those kinds of efforts in which progress on sustainability could continue during the Trump years.

Bold Nebraska’s Jane Kleeb, for her part, is ready to organize against a renewed push to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. (Builder TransCanada has already announced plans to reapply for a permit under the Trump administration.)

“We will start to really hit Republicans on the eminent domain issue,” Kleeb said. Forcing landowners to turn over their property for pipelines, which allows private companies to profit, is unpopular with both Democrats and Republicans.

“We’ll continue to fight pipelines around property rights, water, and sovereignty issues,” Kleeb added. “We’ll be fighting for public lands and water.”

Whether it’s blocking a coal-export terminal in Seattle or California passing ambitious climate legislation, those local fights will grow even more important as Trump tries to move the country in the opposite direction.

Republicans will have the least control over trends in state and local clean energy development, which have been dictated more by economic factors than political ones. Of course federal policy still helps shape those trends, especially in the remote possibility that Congress zaps clean-energy tax breaks.

Nevertheless, for at least the next four years, progressive states will continue to take the lead in climate policy in the United States. While some states get cleaner, Republican-dominated states could very well go in the opposite direction as the federal government lowers the bar they’re required to meet.

Strategy 5: Expand the movement

The climate movement has a tool at its disposal that no election can take away — the movement itself, which has changed dramatically over the past few years and now includes a much larger coalition of faces and groups.

That new mix was on display two years ago at the 311,000-strong People’s Climate March in New York City, as frontline communities and environmental justice advocates led the way.

Advocates agreed that to succeed, environmentalists are going to have to lean even harder into a broad-based strategy that engages more people and new allies in the climate fight.

Yong Jung Cho, a former organizer with 350.org who is a cofounder of the new progressive group All Of Us, notes that although single-issue organizing is important, “we need movements” that push a broader set of priorities from the outside.

All Of Us will be less concerned with organizing against GOP’s racist agenda than with pressuring Democratic politicians to hold the line, Cho said. This week, the group organized a sit-in at the office of Sen. Chuck Schumer, expected to be the next Senate Minority Leader.

To organize effectively in a Trump era, Rogers-Wright said “our local organizing prowess is going to have to improve and increase tenfold. We’ve seen some amazing things happen at the local level that have had a lot of profound change.”

Just look at the rallies across the country this week calling on Obama to do whatever he can to permanently stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota before he leaves office. What began as a legal battle between the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the pipeline owner, Energy Transfer Partners, has become a national rallying cry for indigenous rights and protecting clean water, resonating as few environmental battles have in recent years. Tens of thousands of people have now taken action in solidarity with what began as a local fight.

Similarly, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune says he finds hope in the growth of a different kind of coalition that has emerged as clean energy has become competitive economically.

“When it comes to climate and clean energy, there is an alliance between the market and our movement that we never had before,” Brune said. “Clean energy now is cheaper than coal and gas in most parts of the country, and it creates more jobs than fossil fuels. Investors are increasingly moving away at least from coal — investors and corporate leaders that we didn’t have in the Bush administration.”

Whereas a strong progressive movement would apply pressure to Democrats and more moderate Republicans, business leaders might carry a bit more weight among conservatives. The pressure has already started, as more than 360 businesses have called on Trump to stick with the Paris climate deal.

At first glance, these two goals — shoring up a wider progressive base of climate voters and appealing to business interests — might seem in conflict. But that’s not necessarily true.

“The way that movements work and are most effective is not that everyone does the same thing, or that everyone adopts the same messaging,” said 350.org’s Henn. “It’s about having a diversity of approaches that work together — an ecosystem, if you will — that are somewhat in concert with one another.”

Key to this strategy, Henn said, is not forgetting the larger stakes of the fight.

“It’s important to remind people that that there’s something fundamentally awful about what he’s doing. It’s going to be important to not normalize the Trump agenda. … The climate community is going to need to keep doing that. If we fight this as a policy fight, we’re going to lose.”

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Inside the climate movement’s Trump-fighting strategy

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We Live in a Gentlemen’s C- Universe

Mother Jones

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Physicist Eugene Wigner is the author of a famous paper called “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences.” Brad DeLong comments:

We are all, potentially, the Friends of Wigner. It has always seemed to me that anyone with the empathy and imagination to think of him or herself as one of the Friends of Wigner is then driven inescapably to either “quantum mechanics is totally wrong wrong wrong wrong and just predicts well for incomprehensible reasons” or “many-worlds”. There really are no other alternatives, or at least what alternatives there are are even stranger.

Au contraire. I consider quantum mechanics to be evidence that we are all constructs in somebody else’s virtual reality. All of the peculiarities of quantum mechanics are easily explainable if the universe is merely a computer-generated world subject to the whims of a programmer.

The only question left is why the programmer has created such a world. Whimsy? Amusement? As a test of some sociology theorem? Bad design?

Perhaps the last one is most likely. In reality, quantum mechanics is a desperate, ugly patch glued onto a poorly working universe by a stressed freshman at 2 am. Basically, the poor kid waited until the last minute, as freshmen everywhere do, and hadn’t really understood much of the text for the required “Plenum Creation and Maintenance” class. The result was a mess that kept falling apart even for small taus of only a few billion years. One thing led to another, and eventually the whole project became a Rube Goldberg monstrosity of black holes, 11 dimensions, wavicles, arbitrary speed-of-light caps on velocity, and observer-induced wave collapse as a last-ditch way of reducing the computing power needed to run it.

In the end it received a gentlemen’s C- from a sympathetic professor. That’s the universe we live in.

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We Live in a Gentlemen’s C- Universe

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What If We Never Passed the Clean Air Act?

Fortyyears ago, the United States government passed theClean Air Acta federal law that regulates atmospheric emissions in order to protect the air we breathe from pollution. Without it, our world would look a whole lot different.

But what exactly does that mean?

Let me take you into an alternate reality, with the help of a report from our friends at Save on Energy: a reality in which air pollution levels have reached a new height, where impurities rule and air visibility is just about non-existent. You can find that full report here!

What would our cities look like? How would our lives be different?

The following graphics demonstrate how American citieswould look in a world without the Clean Air Act. The pollution levels were determined by calculatingconcentration of particles in the air (similar to China’s post polluted city, Xingtai), to visibility in miles.

Here’s the actual formula, for all your science aficionadosout there:

Adj. Max. Daily PM2.5 for Population = (US Pop. / Xingtai Pop.) * Max Daily PM2.5 for Xingtai

VL= (A * 10^3)/G

VL= Equivalent visual range.

A = 0.75 Adjusted for miles

G = Micrograms per cubic meter.

Here’s how Chicagowould look without the Clean Air Act:

What about Dallas? Houston?San Jose? Take a look!

What isAir Pollution?

According to the Save on Energy report, which gives a great definition, “Air pollution occurs when particulate matter, biological agents, or other harmful pollutants are introduced into the atmosphere, posing both an environmental and human health risk.” The World Health Organization (WHO) considers this to be just about any contaminant that “modifies the natural characteristics of the atmosphere.”

Pollutants like this can come through anything like industrial facilities, the burning of fossil fuels, vehicle exhaust, household fires and more. These pollutants can cause allergies and seriously detrimental diseases like lung cancer, chronic and acute respiratory disease, asthma, reduced fertility, neurological disorders and stroke.They also make their way into our foods, contaminating the fish and plants we eatthrough bioaccumulation,and cause acid rain. The Guardian suggests that air pollution kills approximately 3.3 million people every single yeara number that will double by 2050 if we don’t make some more serious changes to our pollution policies. That’s more than malaria and HIV/AIDScombined.

Did the Clean Air Act really make a difference?

Absolutely! Since 1973, when the Act was passed, the Clean Air Act has helped decrease surface ozone levels by 25 percent since 1980, reduced mercury emissions by 45 percent since 1990 and taken out more than half of the nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide responsible for acid rain since 1980. We can also thank the Clean Air Act for preventing the premature deaths of some 40,000 people, and millions more from contracting diseases like those listed above.

Thank goodness for proactivity!

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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What If We Never Passed the Clean Air Act?

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